Monday, February 19, 2018

EXPECTATIONS, THAWED


EXPECTATIONS, THAWED

We’ve cruised the seas
A time or two
And reported the news
Now, at it again
In search of something new
Here’s what I choose
To see

I lied to my wife

An eve of disappointments
Led to complaints
And whining
I promised, “No more.”
But there is a kernel here
Worth letting grow

I burden our vacations
With too many expectations

When the weather’s cold
It’s is hard not to glorify warm places

And herein lay the kernel
And my lie

The more elaborate the vacation
The more complicated the trip
The more things must go right
And the more opportunities for things to slip

On our adventure’s eve
A time of highest expectations
Cozumel?!  Grand Cayman?! Key West?!
A classy restaurant, busy, turned us away
We didn’t need reservations last year

Plan B
More casual restaurant on the beach
With walls of glass and a sunny view
At night, a darkened cage of echoed noise
And ordinary food
Plastic glasses served ordinary wine
You, too, would be tempted to whine

My wife, no defeatist
Suggested a return to plan A
For dessert

As promised
My whining
No longer anywhere to be heard
But inscribed here

Hardly a man of my word

To put this to rest
Our boarding eve ended
With one of Fort Lauderdale’s best
Sunsets
?!

But expectations are human
And the world is complex
It has its way of intruding some fun

Take this chuckle
A comment from an attendant
At the mandatory welcome aboard safety drill
“If you’re quiet, it will last quicker.”


GRAND CAYMAN ISLAND

This is what we came to see
Seven-mile Beach
Great sand
A little narrow and sloped
Sunny and warm
But rather wavy today
Not easy walking or wading
When you’re pushing eighty

But, how about this? 
The Royal Palms
A pub, beachside
An opportunity we took advantage of
To explore Caribbean rum
In the shade

And on the side
An unexpected Grand Cayman encounter
With Francis, a fellow cruiser
Speech impediment (seemed more)
We never quite got near
Carole listened, tried to hear

Then shared fish tacos and a smoothie

He shared several times
That he was from Utah
And drinks without alcohol are cheaper

A bit of a Cayman UK surprise
My first experience with left hand traffic
The good news
We were just riders


COZUMEL

Surprise fun
Doing chocolate, Mexican
Not indulging
But learning its history
And how it was made
For thousands of years
The Mayans served a spicy watery drink
Until cows were introduced by the Spanish
Who ultimately took it all to Africa
From where most of our chocolate comes today

We were taught how cacao beans
Are grown, aged, dried
And blended with spices
Cinnamon, cactus, chilies and vanilla
To name a few

The biggest treat was actually making it
Beans and stems of vanilla
Were sent through our hand operated grinder
Then repeated with sugar
Molded, signed and sent to an oven

While it cooked, we sampled
White chocolate with coconut
Dark chocolate with various spices
And different concentrations of cacao
Paired with Mexican wines
A red blend and a chardonnay
Chocolate nerds?  Who knew?

The cooking done
And our chocolate in tow
We taxied back to port
Where Carole checked out bracelets
At a jewelry store
And Dennis, in a Puebla Artisans Shop
Reminisced with Kevin about Puebla
And a collegian’s visit sixty years ago
Center stage, a modern day street musician
Mall amped with flute, voice and guitar

Back on board
A Mexican evening
Under the stars at the Lido pool
Mariachi music, local
Others strolled
Full costumed cool


KEY WEST

It seemed special to be
At our country’s southernmost
After a chilly early morning walk
We trolleyed to

The Hemingway House

Interesting artifacts
And numerous descendants, cats

Several of his books were written there
Between five a.m. and two
The interesting tales
Were of his lives, after two
Several wives, the outdoors
Wars and inherited bi-polar  



Then on to Truman’s Little White House

And some Harry surprises

“Dewey Defeats Truman” original Chicago paper
The firing of MacArthur
And a poker table
Where The President and his buddies passed around a gun
The “buck”
As the players decided whose turn it was to deal
On his desk, the sign
“The buck stops here”

TRIP BACK

Fun, we agreed to agree
Though it now comes less easily
Anxious to get back home
We and FLL were somewhat overwhelmed
By a Sunday cruise ships overload

Lunch on the plane to DTW

Then a Michigan Flyer bus ride home in the snow
With a driver who could not stop punching the accelerator
Safety measure?
Nervous foot?
Drive-you-crazy ride
But safely home
Though too late for most of the Super Bowl

DRK, 1/27/18 – 2/4/18

Friday, February 9, 2018

                                                     WE MADE IT


                                                Out the window, snow
                                                Mother Nature inhales; pause
                                                Then a whiteout blow


Leave by nine.  Arrive by three
Settle in
Get to Marquette to see
The U. P. 200 begin

Well, maybe by five
Or before dark
. . . .  Whenever

Lake effect advisories
Blizzard conditions closing roads

Do you believe in miracles?

Lunch at Grayling and the snow began
I-75 going north
Hannah and Alyssa benched -- Plan B
With compliments to the teens
From here on in adults would take the wheel

Lake Michigan snow bands taking turns
Left to right across the windshield
One minute, drive 70, the next, 35
Somewhere up ahead through the swirl
A five-mile long suspension bridge we cannot see

Miracle one, hello U. P. 

West on US-2
North of Lake Michigan’s blow
Catch our breath and a view

The beach, ocean-sized, iced as far as you can see
Rough-hewn ice dunes
Blocks, chunks and shards on shore
Further out, wind-swept clean
Unreachable but skate-able smooth

North again, M-77, zeroing in on Munising
Now Lake Superior hails us with its howl

Sing with me . . .
All day, all night, Marianne
Bands of snow
On the map, Marianne

God bless our rider’s holy bladder
Stop at a Krist station in Munising
And text check with party three
Coming up from Chicago, Louie
Missed a snow-blasted turn sign and is now nearby
Krist Two -- east
We were west

Miracle two, a cross-town family rendezvous

Time to caravan
Three on the way to Au Train Bay

Heavy snow, closed road, detour
Aaron on the phone, Liz navigating
Creeping, nearly piggy-back, through the snow-white black
Following flashing hazard lights in the dark  
Down a woodsy, winding road
Our target, the lane to Au Train lodge

Goal in sight.  To the right?
Up the lane, one last hill
But our van, the cow’s tail
Unable to follow the other two
Spun its wheels to no avail

Sitting, mulling what to do
When, gasp, over the hill
One and two retracing tracks
Four headlights aimed!
We’re a sitting duck

Brace!   
Last minute absolute worst!

Swerve!  Left!  Bump?

Course, corrected
Straight ahead down the hill

Miracle three, the lodge,
. . . Breathe

Let the Presidents’ Day holiday weekend begin

Hannah, disappointed
Missed the Friday night start of the race  
But quickly settled in
And helped us explore the sturdy embrace
Separating us from the blowing snow
And angry, roiling trees outside

Inside, a two-fireplace bonus
With spacious kitchen
Room to spread  
Three carloads of people
And a long weekend’s supply of things and snacks

Liz, on her game,
With pre packed mac and cheese, chicken salad
And generous servings of wine
Organized

Miracle four, our first meal

About that race

Images on TV of a snowy Marquette crowd
Downtown Friday night
Sending off fourteen twelve-dog teams
Yapping to get underway
120 miles east to Grand Marais
Mandatory halfway rest
Return Saturday night for a Sunday morning finish

Aaron and the girls, Saturday, caught up with the teams in Grand Marais
Then paid their respects to
The Great Lakes Brewing Company
And The Breakwall Bakery and Café

That night, same crew
Midnight along the run back to Marquette
Huddled around a barrel and fire

Viewing teams
At a designated interception spot  

            Sled dog racers
            Don’t do ovals with bleachers
            Be prepared to watch them run at night
            As the dogs can overheat
            But enjoy the bonfires and hot chocolate

Back at the lodge, Meme and Papa kept the fireplaces going
The front stoop scooped
And were just thankful to be

Up north

Sunday, on the way to see the finish
Clear roads and sunshine
We could finally appreciate Lake Superior’s winter scenes

Pause at Lakenenland Sculpture Park
Interception point and junkyard art
One team quietly making its way 
Forty minute wait for the next

So on to Marrquette
With its snow white hills and frozen bay
Traffic going about its way
Stay out of the way, Trolls
These Yoopers do it on ice every day

The trail’s finish, lined with bales of hay
Ambience and seats to see
The lead team swing to the right around the bay
Toward our noisy cowbells and cheers

Ryan Anderson, Ray, Minnesota, bib number 13

Interviewed over the P. A.  
While handlers arrived
To move his dogs to their trailer rig
Treats, rest, and a chance to be
Harness and booties free

Bib 5 from Quebec now claiming second place

For us, that ended the race
We retired to Doncker’s Candy Shop
For sandwiches, soups, coffee and pop
Skipping the flavored phosphates
We opted for Jilbert’s Ice cream, a local favorite,

Back at the lodge, late Sunday
A beachfront explore
For those under seventy
A bonfire on a snowy pyre
Burned its way down
Sinking toward the beach
Somewhere lower

Alyssa’s pictures captured the rugged wonder
Of Lake Superior’s icy tundra

Last order of family fun, Sunday evening jam
Clarinet, tuba, ukulele and trombone
The Base Layers quintet tuned, spooned, jugged
But mostly mugged for the cameras

Monday morning whirlwind
Clean up and pack

Then back up the slippery snowy lane
And several attempts
Back onto the road again
Tiptoeing through the elements
South and East across the U. P.
Thankful for the many snowplows
That kept the roads snow free

Once across the bridge  
Improved weather let us travel quickly south
And gradually back to last week's reality
While our thoughts began to brew  
Memories of the adventure

We made

With the help of a miracle or two


DRK
Presidents’ Day weekend, 2016

Monday, January 15, 2018

BURDENED?


SOCIALLY UNBURDENED

On the road
I drive wherever
And faster than you

You, whoever

I can do it, so I will

Yonder, rapt in tech
I stream the limits  
Of my handhelds 
Beware my wander
No hands held

My music is loud
And rattles some moods
Should you prefer
Music that doesn't intrude
Elevators are still available 

Look at me
Look after me


SOCIALLY BURDENED

These two old totes of mine
Weight my arms
And slow me down
Annoying, I am sure  
One more old truck
Making wide turns

Sprinting I gave up long ago
Plodding will have to do
My accumulation continues to grow
And must be moved

I could lose half the heft
Make it easier
For whatever steps I have left
All this paper . . .

Update!
My youngers press
Use apps, digital maps and GPS
Deal with what’s what
And where it’s at
With much less fuss

Must you look over my shoulder?

DRK
1/26/18

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

LOST AND FOUND


LOST AND FOUND

Dyed, re-dying hair
Youth in perpetual search
Studs, tats anywhere

Thinning hair, repairs
Stunned wonder at what I found
Age spots everywhere

Dennis R.Keefe
1/9/18

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

HOLIDAY TRAVELS

We primped and prepped 
for holiday events
that came,
rocked and rolled for awhile,
then passed so fast – 
    to the last tree needle swept – 

I decided to examine where they went.

The white Christmas which arrived on cue
took five when warm winds and rains
sent snowmen, in a panic, running
to
    the
        city’s
            drains,
their graveyard of arm litter

                u
sticking    p 

in the little snow that remained.

Our out-of-town revelers traveled
once the holidays died –
back home, the phone verified.
Their colds, flu and holiday blues
had hitch-hiked to make new friends. 

Holiday foods, once so proud,
are now huddled in the cold,
their trip to the disposal
delayed a day or two.

And those festive wrappings and bows?
In the basement, stowed,
or led to the curb, awaiting years        
of breaking down barriers
with new landfill neighbors.

In the midst of it all we were treated to a
warm weather . . . backyard . . . raccoon . . . winter . . . resurrection    

            surprise.

Fur, focused, rooting in seeds spilled by the birds
eventually disappeared 
under our deck
leaving us to wonder 
about their plans for the future.

The tree, undressed,
was let free, free to be
a green recyclee.                                        

But there the trails...begin to fade.                                     

Interpretations made
about Christmas,
hidden in memories diverse,
left when our visitors dispersed.                                                                   
 
And somewhere, misplaced,
is my taste 
for outrageous
holiday decor.

Dennis R. Keefe
February 26, 2009

Friday, December 15, 2017

A STABLE ENVIRONMENT

Pre Christmas ice was
our morning rise surprise.

Awakened to broken trees
and the creeping news,
hour by hour,
of the power of power.

Neighborhoods, 
in the lurch,
were left in the throes 
of holiday prep.

Driven by winter’s grip
and disabled heaters into the dark
they made their way —

    one flashlight there poking about.

No traffic light control
encouraged courtesies,
patience and taking turns.

All in search of
warmth, light,
wi-fi, TV,

refrigeration, the irony

or any
helping hand.

Decorated homes, unable to glow their mystery,
raised the issue of nativity quality without electricity.

One of the lucky spared 
we, in the midst of chaos,
somehow kept our balance

and in fact, gained new found power,

winners in the game
of who is the helper
and who the helpee. 

Blessed with beds,
couch and floor space availability
we could adopt an open door policy.

Then from the east appeared

chain saws, strong backs and good will
removing neighborhood tree debris.

And uprooted friends,
    cooks in need of a kitchen,
    willing and able
    to spread our table,

    snow shovelers and story tellers
    lightened and brightened the day.

Long story short, as Christmases go,
this was the best

or at least
among the top two.

Our decorations even thanked us
for their expanded venue.


DRK
Christmas, 2013






LIGHTING A MALL PALL     

Antlered,
belled, trimmed in red
– oversized poster glam
in a men’s wear store --
a lifeless image
modeling holiday hospitality
fostered, for those on the move,
the illusion
of cheer.    

Seated at a cafe’,
I returned the stare
inert.

A woman stooped to greet a child
then eagerly await
news of his day.
Her focused smile,
filtered through tangled hair,
decorated my holiday.


Dennis R. Keefe
April 29, 2008